Speaking at Planning Committee Survey
Allowing the public to speak at the Planning Committee was introduced in 2003 following expectations from Central Government in response to the concerns set out by the Nolan Committee. A set of procedures to guide public speaking was agreed at that time, covering who was entitled to speak, how to arrange to speak and the length of time speakers were allowed to address the Committee. A leaflet explaining these procedures is sent to everyone who is consulted on a planning application. In order to see how this procedure is operating, a satisfaction survey (see Appendix 1 of report below) is given to everyone who speaks at Planning Committee. We analysed these completed questionnaires in January 2009 and reported the findings to the Planning Committee. The report is at the bottom of the page.
Main comments raised
- The leaflet should be amended to add clarity on certain issues, eg where more than one speaker wishes to address the Committee, and accessing Committee Reports before the meeting.
- The time period for speakers of 3 minutes per ‘side’ was considered by many to be too short, particularly for those whose first language wasn’t English.
- Applications where speakers have registered an interest should be taken out of order and brought to the front of the agenda for consideration by the Committee, and this process should be made clear in the procedure notes, leaflet, website and front of the agenda.
- Where applications have been previously deferred, only further written representations are permitted by those who have previously spoken on new issues raised. Speakers should be allowed to speak again.
- Officer updates on planning application should be made before any speaker presentations, to enable comments to be made by them on any issues the updates may raise.
What we’ve done since
- Changes to the Public Speaking Leaflet have been made.
- Planning Committee considered the request to extend the length of time each speaker had to address the Committee and agreed to keep the period to 3 minutes. They agreed however that the Chairman uses his discretion to allow more time if equality issues become a concern.
- Applications with public speaking are now brought to the front of the agenda and the leaflet and website have been amended accordingly.
- Speakers are not permitted to re-address the Committee, but officers will ensure additional written comments are brought to members’ attention when subsequently determining the application.
- Officer updates on planning application are now made before any speaker presentations.